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Vol. XIII, N. 21 December 21, 2009
Trip to South Africa, Kenya and Zimbabwe. From the 10th to the 21st of December Father General made his third trip to Africa visiting South Africa, Kenya and Zimbabwe,accompanied by Father N'Dombi, D'Souza and Huang, assistants for Africa, Southern Asia and East Asia. The main purpose for the trip was to visit two Jesuit houses of formation: Hekima College in Nairobi (Kenya), which is celebrating this year the 25th anniversary of its foundation; and Arrupe College in Harare (Zimbabwe). During his first visit to Africa last April, Father General had visited the third African common house of formation, the French language theologate in Abidjan (Ivory Coast). Fr. Nicolás began his visit in Johannesburg, where the majority of the South African Region Jesuits live. Apart from the official visits to the Nuncio and other bishops (as done in each country), Fr. Nicolás visited the major apostolic works. Highlights included a meeting and Eucharistic celebration with the Jesuits of the Region and a visit to Soweto, an urban area of Johannesburg and the biggest township in South Africa. With more than three million inhabitants, Soweto played a key role in the struggle against apartheid. In Soweto the Jesuits have a parish devoted to Saint Martino de Porres. On December 13th, Father General left South Africa for Nairobi.
In Kenya Father General visited only Nairobi and its surroundings, where most of the works of the Society are located. Much time was devoted to Hekima College, the English language theologate, where more than 60 African young Jesuits are studying. Father Nicolás met the students and visited the departments, especially the Institute of Peace Studies and International Relations and the (not yet completed) extension of Hekima in Riara Road. Then, he paid visit to JESAM (Jesuit Superiors of Africa and Madagascar) head office and AJAN (African Jesuits Aids Network) bureau. He went also to Saint Joseph the Worker Parish in Kangemi, a shanty town with about 8.000 Catholics and Hakimani House, where the Justice and Peace Centre is based. Other stops included Mwangaza Spiritual Centre and St. Aloysius High School in Kibera. The importance of this encounter with the Jesuits of East Africa was underlined at a Eucharistic celebration during which Fr. Kifle Wansamo pronounced his final vows. Finally, before leaving Kenya, Father General visited the JRS directed Kakuma refugee camp. The camp houses more than 50.000 people, the majority of whom are from Sudan.
On December 18th Father Nicolás moved onto Harare, Zimbabwe, to visit Arrupe College and to meet with about one hundred young Jesuits from all over Africa who are studying philosophy at the college. Another meeting was devoted to the Jesuits of Zimbabwe: during their encounter they discussed the challenges confronting apostolic works given the recent political and economic difficulties. On the calendar also was a meeting with lay collaborators and visits to different apostolic works of the Province. The warm welcome everywhere and fraternal and constructive atmosphere allowed Father General to come to know better this part of Africa and what the Society is doing, often among many difficulties.
Father General has named Fr. Jorge Serrano, of the Province of Colombia, Assistant to the General Treasurer for Development. In the letter of appointment Father Nicolás explains what will be the role of Father Jorge: "He will support the continuing development of communication and collaboration among Mission Procurator, Development, and Treasurer Offices to promote more effective ways of raising funds and receiving donations. One of his goals will be to encourage the better transfer of information among our offices about best practices and successful efforts." Fr. Serrano will be commuting between the General Curia and Colombia.
From the Provinces
AUSTRALIA: Collaboration with laity
The Australian Jesuits have launched a new cross-ministry program to offer to people involved in the apostolic work of the Province a better understanding of their role within the whole apostolic effort of the province. The program strives to deepen understanding of the story of the mission of St. Ignatius, and how his insights continue to shape the way the Society of Jesus and its companions engage in ministry all over the world. It will offer an overview of Ignatius' foundational insights, and the notion of spiritual accompaniment as a way of relating with and supporting others. The program is designed so that people can bring their own perspectives to the Ignatian story. "We all have our own stories and our own journeys. What we'll be doing is outlining what Ignatius got from his journey, then asking how that fits with the insights we have from our journey," said Loyola Institute Director Martin Scroope, in his presentation of the program. Twenty four staff from different Province ministries will present the program to new staff members joining Province works, new and recent volunteers, and new board and council members.
COLOMBIA: For a Mine-free World
From the 29th of November to the 4th of December over a thousand people gathered in Cartagena, Colombia, for a Summit on a Mine-free World. The summit was organized by the United Nations and was the Second Review Conference ten years since the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention entered into force. Participants came from around the world and included landmine activists, survivors, and government representatives. The Jesuit Refugee Service, which is a founding member of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, made four explicit requests: for increased support for people affected by mines and cluster bombs and other explosive remnants of war along with their communities; for a more rapid clearance of mine affected areas; that more states be encouraged to sign and ratify the Mine Ban Convention; and that more states be encouraged to sign the Oslo Treaty on Cluster Munitions. Only six more signatories are needed for it to become international law.
DENMARK: Jesuits at the UN Climate Change Conference
José-Ignacio Garcia and Jacques Haers participated as NGO-observers, members of the "Franciscans International" delegation, in the COP15 negotiations at the Bella Center in Copenhagen. As collaborators in OCIPE's team on environmental issues and challenges they have set up a web blog to report and reflect on the unfolding events in the Danish capital, as well as to stimulate the coming into existence of a worldwide ignatian network on ecology. The COP15 negotiations on the continuation of both the Kyoto Protocol and the UNFCCC convention on climate change were crucial to build up a sustainable worldwide strategy to mitigate the human impact on climate change and to unlock the means and funds for adaptation to the consequence of global climate change, particularly in the poor and developing countries that suffer the most, although they have contributed the least to the current crisis. Worldwide climate change and the struggle for just and equitable life patterns on our planet are intimately linked and represent a challenge to the Jesuits and the wider Ignatian Family to make good use of their diverse and universal capabilities. Weblog: http://ignatianeconet.wordpress.com/
ITALY: 'Custom Corridor' named for Matteo Ricci
The first 'Custom Corridor' for goods in the Mediterranean Sea moving between China and Italy will be named after Father Matteo Ricci. Submitted at the end of November to the Department of Economic Development, the project anticipates a logistic platform between Genoa and Tianjin. The initiative, said Vice-minister Adolfo Urso, will bring "enhanced employment levels to the Genoa dock system and encourage commercial exchange, especially in regard to our exports." At the same time "it will allow Italy to control the goods and will be useful in the struggle against disguising and disloyal competition." The project will start officially on January 1st, 2010. Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office, said that the work is "an original and challenging idea. Along with Marco Polo, Matteo Ricci is the best known and appreciated Italian personality in China. To title this initiative after him demonstrates a commitment, not only to the commercial, but also to cultural and spiritual fields with the same teachings Ricci left us: friendship and dialogue between the two people." The chance to create a preferential custom corridor between Genoa and Tianjin follows the customs agreement Italy and China signed on September 25th.
VIETNAM: The end of Dalat's Seminary
Dalat's Pontifical College in Vietnam, will be demolished and the place converted into a public park. For almost twenty years the Jesuits taught in the college which served as a central seminary for the Church in Vietnam. Around the Seminary was one of the best botanic gardens in the whole Asia, built by Italian missionary Brother Muò. In 1975, with the so-called "liberation" of South Vietnam by the communist, the seminary was seized by the government. At the end of November the Vietnamese Episcopal Conference President announced that "he and other bishops including the archbishops of Hanoi, Hue and Hochiminhville, had failed to stop the demolition." After listing all petitions made to Vietnam government during the years, he added: "The Collegium Pontificium is so dear to the heart of bishops and priests in Vietnam. It's a living memory of many. 14 priests who have graduated from here were ordained as bishops and many of them are still governing dioceses in Vietnam."
ZAMBIA: AIDS remains a priority
Connected as it is to the fight against poverty and unfairness, AIDS remains a high priority for the Jesuit Province of Zambia-Malawi (ZAM), said Fr Alex Muyebe SJ, chairman of the Social Apostolate Committee. Considering the fact that rates of infection remain steep and, as of the end of 2008, 58% of those infected in low- and middle-income countries were still in need of antiretroviral therapy and still did not have access to the treatment, a seemingly growing indifference to the fact of HIV and AIDS is alarming. Millions of Africans are still fighting every day against the pandemia, poverty and lack of opportunities for a better living. According to Father Muyebe the parish is a privileged place to fight HIV and AIDS and many other problems confronting society. "The work of the parish is not only administering sacraments and celebrating the Eucharist," he said. "Parishes are increasingly becoming the focal point of the social apostolate. As time passed, we have seen a shift in parish AIDS ministry from helping those infected to die honourably, to helping them to live a dignified life, giving priority to women and children, the first victims of the pandemia." To do this many parishes involves groups of volunteers in programs of income-generating activities and for the education and care of orphans.
Towards the 4th centenary of Matteo Ricci's death
Initiatives of the Italian Province
The Italian Province of the Society of Jesus has on its 2010 agenda a list of initiatives to commemorate the 4th centenary of Matteo Ricci's death and also the 470th anniversary of the foundation of the Society of Jesus. Among them we highlight a meeting sponsored by Fondazione San Fedele on the missionary style of Matteo Ricci which will take place in Milano during the first months of 2010. The meeting will provide the occasion to perform for the first time in Italy choral and orchestra music composed in China by Jesuit missionaries during XVII and XVIII centuries. At the same time an exhibition will display the original copies of Father Gerolamo Nadal's Liber imaginum, an illustrated text used during Ricci's times for evangelization in Far East.
During the first week of May the Gesù Church in Rome will host the program Rivisitare le origini oggi, a kind of pilgrimage across the cultural, artistic and spiritual attestations of Gesù Church in Rome and its surroundings: the Chapel of the Assunta, the International College, the Gesù Residence, the Centro Astalli for refugees, the Camerette of St. Ignatius where he lived his last years and from where he animated the growth of the Society of Jesus. "Visitors will discover a display of Jesuit artifacts, of historical and spiritual significance, and talk with Jesuits living there, especially with young people in formation, from Italy and abroad, who are preparing for priesthood and with other Jesuits working in manifold apostolates."
Initiatives of Popoli Review
During the year 2010 Popoli, the international missionary review of Italian Jesuits, will also celebrate the anniversary of Matteo Ricci's death with many initiatives. Every month the review will devote a special supplement not only to the apostolic "enterprises" of this pioneer of inculturation, but also to reflection on his inheritance for those who are today committed to the Gospel's proclamation. Scholars and specialists in sinology, Jesuits and lay will investigate different aspects of Ricci's work. Whoever subscribes to the review with the "Special" formula (40 euro for Italy, 55 euro for those outside Italy), will receive a complimentary copy of the DVD: Matteo Ricci, A Jesuit in the Reign of the Dragoon, by Gjon Kolndrekaj, the first documentary film - available in 7 languages - on the life of Matteo Ricci, shoot in Italy and China. The documentary film lasts 60 minutes and is under the sponsorship of the General Curia of the Society of Jesus (more on: www.matteoricci.it). On January 23, 2010, in Milan, Popoli, together with Fondazione Culturale San Fedele and the review Aggiornamenti Sociali, will promote a day-long meeting on the theme Dell'amicizia. Matteo Ricci: Oriente e Occidente in dialogo (On Friendship. Matteo Ricci: East and West in Dialogue), with the participation of Father Adolfo Nicolás, Superior General of the Society of Jesus (for more information: www.popoli.info).
The "Day of Marche" Devoted to Matteo Ricci
The "Day of Marches", celebrated on the 10th of December in Macerata, was devoted this year to Father Matteo Ricci. Father Ricci is "a citizen of Marches" who "can be considered a real bridge between East and West. He was a forerunner of international openness, of the "road towards East", a road that the Marches wants to continue to cultivate," said Gian Mario Spacca, President of the Region. The day was the occasion to show the documentary film Matteo Ricci, a Jesuit in the Reign of the Dragoon. Over the next few months, in cooperation with the Macerata diocese, which is also a member of the promoter committee, the Region has a series of initiatives on its schedule including: the publication of Ricci's opera omnia; the circulating exhibition Matteo Ricci. Europe at the Ming's Court, which will be inaugurated on the 9th of February in Bejing, and will move then to Shanghai (for the Expo 2010), Nanking and Macao until September 2010, and many other cultural events.
Chinese agency Xin Hua speaks on Matteo Ricci
In view of the 4th centenary of Matteo Ricci's death, not only the Chinese Catholic world but even the mass media of the government has remembered the "great western sage" with affection. On November 23 the state-run agency Xin Hua (New China) published a long article entitled: "Model of incorporation of European and Chinese civilizations," which was reported to be among the most visited sites of the state, along with sites like the Counselor's Office of the State Council, The China Internet Information Center and many others. The article outlines the figure of Fr. Matteo Ricci using expressions which are now well-known: "bridge between East and West," "great sage of the west", "promoter/model of exchange between East and West." Visitors can also read his detailed biography, the history of his mission, and his contribution to cultural, scientific, social and religious development. The article mentions also the letter of the Pope to Mons. Giuliodori, Bishop of Macerata, on the occasion of the opening of the celebrations for the anniversary. The author ends the article calling Fr. Matteo Ricci "a pioneer seeking a common basis for dialogue and scientific and cultural exchange. With his extraordinary, timeless cultural and theological talent, he indicated an alternative route of incorporation of culture and science for all."
New in SJWEB
Two slideshows on Father General's trip to South Africa, Kenya and Zimbabwe. Link: http://www.sjweb.info
Wishing all our friends and readers a Merry Christmas
and a New Year filled with joy and peace,
The Press and Information Office informs that the next Electronic Bulletin
will appear around the middle of January 2009.
In February it will resume its regularity.